Spiritbox – Gig Review & Photo Gallery 21st March @ The Forum, Melb VIC

The Forum, Melbourne VIC
March 21, 2023
Supports: Make Them Suffer & Reliqa

It is Knotfest fever right now and we’re high on the fumes of heavy metal. The inaugural festival commences later this week and before it begins, we have been gifted numerous sideshows from some of the biggest bands across the bill. Last night, we got to experience one of them – notably, Spiritbox‘s first-ever live show in Australia. They even had some very special guests join them, namely Make Them Suffer & Reliqa.

There was a certain energy in the air at The Forum in Melbourne that perpetuated an emotive and visceral connection from the moment people walked into the venue; maybe it was the size of venue Spiritbox were making their mark in, maybe it was Make Them Suffer flying across the country for this one show, or maybe it was symbolic to see all three bands on the bill to include talented women.

Sydney-siders Reliqa hit the stage as the house music clicked, which kickstarted the rapidly growing crowd giving an incredibly warm reception. With vocalist Monique Pym spitting diverse bouts of cleans, uncleans and rapid-fire-rap, the crowd was immediately wowed. The four-piece sported some of their best from their breakthrough EP Eventide and 2022 release I Don’t Know What I Am.

The technical and progressive sounds delivered from guitarist Brandon Lloyd were remarkable, and combined with the venue’s acoustics, Reliqa sounded world class. How could they not play ‘Safety‘, featuring Make Them Suffer‘s Sean Harmanis? The Perth frontman casually hit the stage and belched his opening few lines before quickly leaving, allowing Reliqa to powerfully close their set.

We all know Spiritbox and Make Them Suffer have a pretty special relationship, and as the night went on, we learned that the WA group were the first band the headliners ever toured with, just before COVID hit. To see the deathcore-come-metalcore outfit travel across the country for this one gig was pretty awesome, particularly given their gruelling border situation. For most who weren’t lucky enough to catch Make Them Suffer‘s first show in Melbourne with Alex Reade at Stay Gold in October last year (gig review here), this was all-the-more-exciting.

The five-piece were fully loaded with a raw type of energy that we haven’t seen in years, as they graced the stage with the opening bars to ‘Hollowed Heart‘. Guitarists Nick McLernon and Jaya Jeffery were smiling at the sold out crowd as they blew a proverbial hole through the building with deep tuning. With Harmanis bursting at the seams with vocal energy, Make Them Suffer powered straight into How To Survive a Funeral tracks ‘Bones‘ and ‘Soul Decay‘ – which have been immensely underplayed due to COVID.

The Perth band’s heavy groovy basslines and signature sound pounded through the venue with circle pits erupting throughout. Reade seamlessly rocked the keyboard and fit into the band ever so naturally across the set, all the way from ‘Vortex‘ and ‘Ether‘, to ‘Fake Your Own Death‘ where she sported her own cleans and uncleans, alongside some deeper and deeper gutturals from Harmanis as the night went on.

With ‘Doomswitch‘ being one of the stand-outs of the night, keytar and all – it reinforced Reade’s natural immersion in Make Them Suffer. So, we thought the earlier stage-surprise was exciting, can you imagine the crowd when Spiritbox vocalist Courtney LaPlante hit the spotlight for the last half of set closer ‘Contraband‘? Dressed in a black tracksuit, the vocalist made her Australian stage debut purging the feature from the 2021 track; everyone went proportionally berserk for the special moment. 

The Forum was well and truly packed now, as the stage opened up with the headliner’s backdrop and drum podium ready and in full-view for the ultimate performance. At 10.30pm sharp, a metalcore band called Spiritbox from Victoria, British Columbia entered the stage for the very first time in Victoria, Australia. Sweethearts Mike Stringer and drummer Zev Rosenberg got a massive applause and a deafening scream from Melbourne punters as they walked on stage lifted their arms to greet the audience. LaPlante finally appeared in a baggy black tee and short shorts, giving a menacing guttural preview that erupted the entire venue in hysteria.

Spiritbox played through that initial crowd-shock-factor with ‘Circle With Me‘ and ‘Hurt You‘ to thousands of people singing the lyrics back at them. Stringer was poised with the stage-lights shining on him as he tore through the riffs from most of the 2021 Eternal Blue record. LaPlante openly told the crowd how excited she was and how she was already planning the next tour so she wouldn’t be so “overwhelmed” next time. The humbling vocalist visibly had the most fun time strutting the stage, dancing like nobody was there – and shifting between her incredible alternation of cleans/uncleans on earlier singles ‘Rule of Nines‘ and ‘The Mara Effect, Pt. 3‘. Honourable mention needs to be given to touring bassist Josh Gilbert (ex-As I Lay Dying/Wovenwar) who played along like he had been with the band from day one.

With ‘Rotoscope‘ and ‘Hysteria‘ played separately from their surprise 2022 Rotoscope EP, Spiritbox showcased their post-Eternal Blue talents, with more confidence facing into their significantly heavier material. Courtney really immersed into her rockstar stage presence, belching gutturals into the mic as it pounded to the back of the venue, with fans remaining in awe at the live experience. Equally, she humbly stopped between tracks to open up about how surreal this show was to her and the band, joking as she literally sang through the emotional tears.

Spiritbox casually slipped into crowd favourite ‘Holy Roller‘ where the buzz was truly levelled up again and the band heard Aussie fans scream every lyric in their face. Closing with ‘Constance‘ and ‘Eternal Blue‘, the Canadians gave Melbourne one more chance to freak out ahead of their Friday performance at Knotfest.

Courtney LaPlante is unequivocally the queen of metalcore and this evening’s show was a historical showcase that will be talked about for years to come as Spiritbox will undoubtedly return to Australia to sell out arenas and stadiums.

Review by Ricky Aarons (@rickysaul90)


Circle With Me
Hurt You
Rule of Nines
The Mara Effect, Pt. 3
Silk in the Strings
Secret Garden
Holy Roller
Blessed Be
Eternal Blue

Photo Gallery by Clinton Hatfield. Insta: @ampd.agency.
Please credit Wall of Sound and Clinton Hatfield if you repost photos.


Make Them Suffer



About Ricky Aarons (822 Articles)
Co-editor at Wall of Sound and self-acclaimed deathcore connoisseur. My purpose is to expose you to the best emerging breakdowns and gutturals that this planet has to offer.